Topsoils, mainly from crop fields, orchards, forests, and barns around the Pyeongchang River, were collected to investigate their heavy metal concentrations. Pollution load index, ecological risk index, and enrichment factor were applied to assess levels of heavy metal contamination for topsoils. The concentrations of cadmium (Cd) (1.7 mg/kg) and chromium (Cr) (4.1 mg/kg) exceeded the troublesome level in one site, whereas zinc (Zn) (396.7 to 711.1 mg/kg) and nickel (Ni) (40.1 to 95.3 mg/kg) in several topsoils exceeded the troublesome to countermeasure levels, according to soil contamination standards for the study areas. A significant risk of contamination was observed for mercury (Hg) by all indices, although the concentration in most of the topsoils was below the guideline. As expected, a positive linear correlation was observed for the values of pollution load index and ecological risk index, demonstrating lower heavy metal contamination in upstream areas compared to those downstream. High to extremely high ecological risk was observed in several samples for Zn and Ni, while all of the soils were unpolluted to slightly polluted, according to the pollution load index. A baseline study was not performed earlier for these sites, so these assessed values of heavy metals should be used as reference values for further assessment.
Keywords: diffuse pollution, heavy metal, monitoring, pollution indices, topsoils